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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Gospels

Chapter 64 - John 6:50 - The Bread of Immortality Light & Truth: The Gospels by Bonar, Horatius




The Bread Of Immortality.


"This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. "-John 6:50.



     There are four points here which form the sum of our Lord's statement: (1.) the bread; (2.) the coming down; (3.) the eating; (4.) the not dying. But before taking up these, mark in the wondrous gift here referred to, (1.) the great love of God; yes, "Herein is love"; (2.) the wisdom of God, providing the right food for hungry souls; (3.) the power of God, imparting to that food its nourishing properties; or rather, giving effect to these properties in causing them to nourish us; making that bread omnipotent, so that no amount of human hunger can withstand it. We cannot think of the gift without calling these things to mind; the gift carrying us back and up to the love, the wisdom, the power of the giver; nay, embodying these in all their fullness. The giver of the bread is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

     I. The bread. Bread is that which feeds the body; nourishes it, strengthens it, makes it grow. Without it, weakness comes, disease, and death. It is of bread for the soul that the Lord here speaks; of something that will sustain the life of the soul; nay, make it grow. He announces Himself as that thing. Not some truth of doctrine, but Himself; the Word made flesh; very man and very God; His whole and complete person; not the manhood without the Godhead, nor the Godhead without the manhood; but His person, God man. He is the bread; not merely bread, but the bread; the one true bread; without whom the soul cannot grow, nor its life be sustained; for only by generous diet can such sickly souls be nourished. As such (no less than as the sin-bearer), he is despised and rejected of men (our soul loatheth this light food): yet none the less is He necessary to the soul as its food, its bread. Out of Him; apart from His person, there is no nourishment, no sustenance. He feeds; He alone; He feeds us on himself.  All else is husks, or mere air and vapor. He alone is bread; He, the Christ of God; He, the eternal Word and Son; He, God manifest in flesh; He, in His glorious person, is our food; His flesh is meat indeed. That which His person reveals to us of Godhead,-of God, and the love of God; of God, and the wisdom, power, righteousness, majesty, and grace of God,-is bread, the bread of the soul; the true bread and sustenance of creature hood; the hidden manna; better than angels' food; "the corn of heaven" (Psalm 78:24); the divine provision for the love and nourishment of humanity. Our Lord applies various names to it : (1.) "bread from heaven"; (2.) "true bread"; (3.) "the bread of God"; (4.) "bread of life"; (5.) "living bread." All these are names indicative of its excellence, its power, its suitableness. It is the very bread we need; no other would do; only Immanuel's person; the Son of God Himself. This is the true unleavened bread; holy and incorruptible. The curse is not in it, but only the blessing. The Word made flesh is the soul's eternal food.

     II. The coming down. In one aspect this bread came "up" as well as "came down"; the human part coming up, the divine part coming down. But as it is the divine part that gives all its vitality and power of nourishment to it, so it is said, as a whole, to come down from heaven. The word is such as to refer to past, present, and future. (1.) It came down; (2.) it is coming down; (3.) it will continue to come down.  In the first promise, it came down; in all subsequent ones, it did the same. It specially came down when the Word was made flesh. That was the great descent of the divine bread; the like of which had not been in our world, nor can be in any other form. It was the bringing down of the granary and storehouse of heaven to earth. That storehouse is inexhaustible; ever accessible; its contents may be said to be either always open to us here on earth, or to be always coming down. In either aspect we see a perpetual supply; a never-failing fullness; ever-present bread; like the manna, ready for us each morning; in double amount each Sabbath; in seven-fold amount each communion. Let us open our mouth wide. Alas for our want of appetite! There is bread enough and to spare, but we have no relish for it; we do not hunger for it. Hence our leanness; the poverty of our blood; the paleness of countenance; the feebleness of our limbs. We do not feed on it sufficiently. What different Christians should we be did we fully partake of it as God presents it. Eat, O friends! Eat, and live; eat, and be strong; eat, and be in health; eat, and go forth to do the work of God. Not on earth will you find the eternal bread; the bread which feeds the immortal spirit. Only in Him who came down from heaven,-the Christ of God.

     III. The eating. Faith eats, and fills the soul; unbelief refuses to eat, and so starves us. We eat by, and in believing. We take into our souls the words of the Holy Ghost concerning this bread; concerning Him who is the bread; and in doing so, we feed on it; we feed on Him.  We receive His body, we take His flesh into our mouth, not in some carnal or mystical way, but in taking in the testimony, in studying and receiving the truth,-the divine words are food: "Thy words were found, and I did eat them"; but the special word which we eat, and by which we are nourished, is the word concerning Him who came down from heaven, the Christ of God, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. God bids us eat. He does not say, "Lest they put forth the hand, and take of the tree, and eat, and live for ever"; He commands us to do this; "put forth the hand, take, eat, and live for ever."

     IV. The not dying. All food is for the production and sustaining of life. The tree of life indicated this. We are to eat that we may live. Immortality is maintained by the provision which God has made for its upholding. This immortality corresponds to the food which produces and nourishes it. Ours is a divine immortality: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. Christ's flesh is life to us. It quickens us. We cat it, and live forever. It is the bread without leaven; without anything in it that can weaken or corrupt; but everything fitted to produce immortality, and incorruptibility. The expression, "and not die," refers specially to the death of those who did eat the desert manna. That manna could not keep them from dying; but this hidden manna can. We may, however, connect the words here with those in Genesis, "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." To eat of that tree of Paradise was fatal. Death must follow. To eat of this better tree, this heavenly bread, is not fatal; is not mortal; nay, it is life-giving. To eat it is not to die, but to live. Nay, there is no life, save in eating it. In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt not die, but live. Eat and live, is our message to a dead world.

     The expression, "that a man," should rather be, that "any one," may eat thereof. It is not a mere statement, but an invitation,-to all that this hungry, famished world contains. Israel only had the manna; to the world is offered this better bread. "Any one," is God's message! "Whosoever"; "everyone"! God places this bread in the world, and bids all eat of it. Empty, starving world, come and partake! "Bread enough and to spare" (Luke 15:17), is God's message. There is enough for all and each. It is free to every one. "My flesh I give for the life of the world." There is no restriction, no exclusion. Any one! Ah surely, O man, that takes thee in; as thou art,-a poor prodigal, starving on husks. Oh, eat and live.